15P Finlay

Closest to Sun on 2014 Dec 27 at 0.97AU.
Closest to Earth on 2015 Jan 15 at 1.39AU.
Maximum magnitude 8 in January 2015
Orbital period:  6.5 years

15P Finlay outburst!


Appearance on 2015 January 18, nearly 2 days after a significant outburst.

This short period comet, with an orbital period of 6.5 years, was discovered by William H Finlay from South Africa in 1886.
It most recently came to perihelion on 2014 December 27 at 0.97AU, when situated low in the western evening sky near the planet Mars.
At around 2014 December 16. it had a sudden outburst from magnitude 11 to 8, which then dissipated after a few weeks.
This outburst was described as a miniature 17P Holmes type event as witnessed in 2007.


image of 15P and Mars on 2014 December 23

Then on 2015 January 16 at 10:45UT, I imaged the comet using a Canon 60Da and Sigma 200mm lens, finding it in outburst again.
Comet appeared about magnitude 8 and highly condensed.

Image details: Canon 60Da + Sigma 200mm lens, 5x15 second exposure, cropped. Low altitude and twilight interference.

The second reported outburst can be timed to have occurred somewhere between 2015 January 16.07 to 16:45UT.
The images below show the development of the outburst between January 18 and 21.

Image taken remotely in New Mexico. I-TEL T5. on 2015 Jan 17 at 01:50UT


Appearance nearly 5 days after outburst.


Appearance nearly 6 days after outburst.

Note the parabolic hood and bright tail spine. Sadly the comet was quite distant from Earth at the time,
else it could have been a naked eye spectacle (as seen from Mars).

Also of interest is that 15P has the potental to create a new southern meteor shower "Finlayids" arising from the
constellation of Ara, starting in the year 2021.